Leah Hengel

Leah Hengel

Leah Hengel, RN

Resource Team
UCLA HEALTH (CA)
Los Angeles, California
United States

...Leah was bedside with me in the final minutes of my beloved mother's life, when I faced the stark and bleak realization that my mother was dying, and would not be coming home with me, ever again. The doctor, who pronounced the death, and several nurses, quickly removed all of the tubes and monitoring devices from my mother's body, and left the room. Leah stayed in the room with me, and did something extraordinarily respectful of my mother, without comment or as much as a glance at me. One of my mother's earrings was on the stand next to the bed, having been earlier removed to make way for an ear lobe monitor. Leah picked up the earring and reset it in my mother's ear, so that balance and symmetry were restored, both earrings again in place, exactly as it should be. She turned, smiled at me, and then quietly left the room, so that I could spend time alone with my mother.

That seemingly simple gesture may seem small or, worse, insignificant but in the context of my mother's life, it totally resonated, and meant the world to me. My mother was one of the most beautiful and elegant ladies ever to grace this planet with her presence. Part of her self-respect was to take on the world each day perfectly coiffed and smartly dressed, through all of the peaks and valleys of a life well lived, solely for herself and purely as a reflection of her own values. Leah could not have more precisely intuited what needed to be done as a final act of respect for and homage to my mother. I am tremendously grateful and blessed to have shared those moments with Leah and my mother.

Medicine, including and especially nursing, can be, for some individuals, as much a calling as a profession. Leah exemplifies that difference.